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´╗┐Title: A Romany of the Snows, vol. 4
 - Being a Continuation of the Personal Histories of "Pierre and His People" and the Last Existing Records of Pretty Pierre
Author: Parker, Gilbert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Romany of the Snows, vol. 4
 - Being a Continuation of the Personal Histories of "Pierre and His People" and the Last Existing Records of Pretty Pierre" ***

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A ROMANY OF THE SNOWS

BEING A CONTINUATION OF THE PERSONAL HISTORIES OF "PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE"
AND THE LAST EXISTING RECORDS OF PRETTY PIERRE

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 4.


LITTLE BABICHE
AT POINT O' BUGLES
THE SPOIL OF THE PUMA
THE TRAIL OF THE SUN DOGS
THE PILOT OF BELLE AMOUR



LITTLE BABICHE

"No, no, m'sieu' the governor, they did not tell you right.  I was with
him, and I have known Little Babiche fifteen years--as long as I've known
you.  .  .  .  It was against the time when down in your world there they
have feastings, and in the churches the grand songs and many candles on
the altars.  Yes, Noel, that is the word--the day of the Great Birth.
You shall hear how strange it all was--the thing, the time, the end of
it."

The governor of the great Company settled back in a chair, his powerful
face seamed by years, his hair grey and thick still, his keen, steady
eyes burning under shaggy brows.  He had himself spent long solitary
years in the wild fastnesses of the north.  He fastened his dark eyes on
Pierre, and said: "Monsieur Pierre, I shall be glad to hear.  It was at
the time of Noel--yes?"

Pierre began: "You have seen it beautiful and cold in the north, but
never so cold and beautiful as it was last year.  The world was white
with sun and ice, the frost never melting, the sun never warming--just
a glitter, so lovely, so deadly.  If only you could keep the heart warm,
you were not afraid.  But if once--just for a moment--the blood ran out
from the heart and did not come in again, the frost clamped the doors
shut, and there was an end of all.  Ah, m'sieu', when the north clinches
a man's heart in anger there is no pain like it--for a moment."

"Yes, yes; and Little Babiche?"

"For ten years he carried the mails along the route of Fort St. Mary,
Fort O'Glory, Fort St. Saviour, and Fort Perseverance within the circle-
just one mail once a year, but that was enough.  There he was with his
Esquimaux dogs on the trail, going and coming, with a laugh and a word
for anyone that crossed his track.  'Good-day, Babiche'  'Good-day,
m'sieu'.'  'How do you, Babiche?'  'Well, thank the Lord, m'sieu'.'
'Where to and where from, Babiche?'  'To the Great Fort by the old trail,
from the Far-off River, m'sieu'.'  'Come safe along, Babiche.'  'Merci,
m'sieu'; the good God travels north, m'sieu'.'  'Adieu, Babiche.' 'Adieu,
m'sieu'.' That is about the way of the thing, year after year.  Sometimes
a night at a hut or a post, but mostly alone--alone, except for the dogs.
He slept with them, and they slept on the mails--to guard: as though
there should be highwaymen on the Prairie of the Ten Stars!  But no, it
was his way, m'sieu'.  Now and again I crossed him on the trail, for have
I not travelled to every corner of the north?  We were not so great
friends, for--well, Babiche is a man who says his aves, and never was a
loafer, and there was no reason why he should have love for me; but we
were good company when we met.  I knew him when he was a boy down on the
Chaudiere, and he always had a heart like a lion-and a woman.  I had seen
him fight, I had seen him suffer cold, and I had heard him sing.

"Well, I was up last fall to Fort St. Saviour.  Ho, how dull was it!
Macgregor, the trader there, has brains like rubber.  So I said, I will
go down to Fort O'Glory.  I knew someone would be there--it is nearer the
world.  So I started away with four dogs and plenty of jerked buffalo,
and so much brown brandy as Macgregor could squeeze out of his eye!
Never, never were there such days--the frost shaking like steel and
silver as it powdered the sunlight, the white level of snow lifting and
falling, and falling and lifting, the sky so great a travel away, the air
which made you cry out with pain one minute and gave you joy the next.
And all so wild, so lonely!  Yet I have seen hanging in those plains
cities all blue and red with millions of lights showing, and voices,
voices everywhere, like the singing of soft masses.  After a time in that
cold up there you are no longer yourself--no.  You move in a dream.  "Eh
bien, m'sieu', there came, I thought, a dream to me one evening--well,
perhaps one afternoon, for the days are short--so short, the sun just
coming over a little bend of sky, and sinking down like a big orange
ball.  I come out of a tumble of little hills, and there over on the
plains I saw a sight!  Ragged hills of ice were thrown up, as if they'd
been heaved out by the breaking earth, jutting here and there like
wedges--like the teeth of a world.  Alors, on one crag, shaped as an
anvil, I saw what struck me like a blow, and I felt the blood shoot out
of my heart and leave it dry.  I was for a minute like a pump with no
water in its throat to work the piston and fetch the stream up.  I got
sick and numb.  There on that anvil of snow and ice I saw a big white
bear, one such as you shall see within the Arctic Circle, his long nose
fetching out towards that bleeding sun in the sky, his white coat
shining.  But that was not the thing--there was another.  At the feet of
the bear was a body, and one clawed foot was on that body--of a man.  So
clear was the air, the red sun shining on the face as it was turned
towards me, that I wonder I did not at once know whose it was.  You
cannot think, m'sieu', what that was like--no.  But all at once I
remembered the Chant of the Scarlet Hunter.  I spoke it quick, and the
blood came creeping back in here."  He tapped his chest with his slight
forefinger.

"What was the chant?" asked the governor, who had scarce stirred a
muscle since the tale began.  Pierre made a little gesture of
deprecation.  "Ah, it is perhaps a thing of foolishness, as you may
think--"

"No, no.  I have heard and seen in my day," urged the governor.

"So?  Good.  Yes, I remember, you told me years ago, m'sieu'.  .  .  .

     "The blinding Trail and Night and Cold are man's: mine is the trail
     that finds the Ancient Lodge.  Morning and Night they travel with
     me; my camp is set by the pines, its fires are burning--are burning.
     The lost, they shall sit by my fires, and the fearful ones shall
     seek, and the sick shall abide.  I am the Hunter, the Son of the
     North; I am thy lover where no man may love thee.  With me thou
     shalt journey, and thine the Safe Tent.

"As I said, the blood came back to my heart.  I turned to my dogs, and
gave them a cut with the whip to see if I dreamed.  They sat back and
snarled, and their wild red eyes, the same as mine, kept looking at the
bear and the quiet man on the anvil of ice and snow.  Tell me, can you
think of anything like it?--the strange light, the white bear of the
Pole, that has no friends at all except the shooting stars, the great ice
plains, the quick night hurrying on, the silence--such silence as no man
can think!  I have seen trouble flying at me in a hundred ways, but this
was different--yes.  We come to the foot of the little hill.  Still the
bear not stir.  As I went up, feeling for my knives and my gun, the dogs
began to snarl with anger, and for one little step I shivered, for the
thing seem not natural.  I was about two hundred feet away from the bear
when it turned slow round at me, lifting its foot from the body.  The
dogs all at once come huddling about me, and I dropped on my knee to take
aim, but the bear stole away from the man and come moving down past us at
an angle, making for the plain.  I could see his deep shining eyes, and
the steam roll from his nose in long puffs.  Very slow and heavy, like as
if he see no one and care for no one, he shambled down, and in a minute
was gone behind a boulder.  I ran on to the man--"

The governor was leaning forward, looking intently, and said now: "It's
like a wild dream--but the north--the north is near to the Strangest of
All!"

"I knelt down and lifted him up in my arms, all a great bundle of furs
and wool, and I got my hand at last to his wrist.  He was alive.  It was
Little Babiche!  Part of his face was frozen stiff.  I rubbed out the
frost with snow, and then I forced some brandy into his mouth, good old
H.B.C.  brandy,--and began to call to him: 'Babiche!  Babiche!  Come
back, Babiche!  The wolf's at the pot, Babiche!'  That's the way to call
a hunter to his share of meat.  I was afraid, for the sleep of cold is
the sleep of death, and it is hard to call the soul back to this world.
But I called, and kept calling, and got him on his feet, with my arm
round him.  I gave him more brandy; and at last I almost shrieked in his
ear.  Little by little I saw his face take on the look of waking life.
It was like the dawn creeping over white hills and spreading into day.
I said to myself: What a thing it will be if I can fetch him back!
For I never knew one to come back after the sleep had settled on them.
It is too comfortable--all pain gone, all trouble, the world forgot, just
a kind weight in all the body, as you go sinking down, down to the
valley, where the long hands of old comrades beckon to you, and their
soft, high voices cry, 'Hello!  hello-o!'"  Pierre nodded his head
towards the distance, and a musing smile divided his lips on his white
teeth.  Presently he folded a cigarette, and went on:

"I had saved something to the last, as the great test, as the one thing
to open his eyes wide, if they could be opened at all.  Alors, there was
no time to lose, for the wolf of Night was driving the red glow-worm down
behind the world, and I knew that when darkness came altogether--darkness
and night--there would be no help for him.  Mon Dieu!  how one sleeps in
the night of the north, in the beautiful wide silence!  .  .  .  So,
m'sieu', just when I thought it was the time, I called, 'Corinne!
Corinne!'  Then once again I said, 'P'tite Corinne!  P'tite Corinne!
Come home!  come home!  P'tite Corinne!'  I could see the fight in the
jail of sleep.  But at last he killed his jailer; the doors in his brain
flew open, and his mind came out through his wide eyes.  But he was blind
a little and dazed, though it was getting dark quick.  I struck his back
hard, and spoke loud from a song that we used to sing on the Chaudiere--
Babiche and all of us, years ago.  Mon Dieu!  how I remember those days--

             "'Which is the way that the sun goes?
               The way that my little one come.
               Which is the good path over the hills?
               The path that leads to my little one's home--
               To my little one's home, m'sieu', m'sieu'!'

"That did it.  'Corinne, ma p'tite Corinne!' he said; but he did not look
at me--only stretch out his hands.  I caught them, and shook them, and
shook him, and made him take a step forward; then I slap him on the back
again, and said loud: 'Come, come, Babiche, don't you know me?  See
Babiche, the snow's no sleeping-bunk, and a polar bear's no good friend.'
'Corinne!' he went on, soft and slow.  'Ma p'tite Corinne!' He smiled to
himself; and I said, 'Where've you been, Babiche?  Lucky I found you, or
you'd have been sleeping till the Great Mass.'  Then he looked at me
straight in the eyes, and something wild shot out of his.  His hand
stretched over and caught me by the shoulder, perhaps to steady himself,
perhaps because he wanted to feel something human.  Then he looked round
slow-all round the plain, as if to find something.  At that moment a
little of the sun crept back, and looked up over the wall of ice, making
a glow of yellow and red for a moment; and never, north or south, have I
seen such beauty--so delicate, so awful.  It was like a world that its
Maker had built in a fit of joy, and then got tired of, and broke in
pieces, and blew out all its fires, and left--ah yes--like that!
And out in the distance I--I only saw a bear travelling eastwards."

The governor said slowly:

     And I took My staff Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break
     My covenant which I had made with all the people.

"Yes--like that."  Pierre continued: "Babiche turned to me with a little
laugh, which was a sob too.  'Where is it, Pierre?' said he.  I knew he
meant the bear.  'Gone to look for another man,' I said, with a gay look,
for I saw that he was troubled.  'Come,' said he at once.  As we went, he
saw my dogs.  He stopped short and shook a little, and tears came into
his eyes.  'What is it, Babiche?' said I.  He looked back towards the
south.  'My dogs--Brandy-wine, Come-along, 'Poleon, and the rest--died
one night all of an hour.  One by one they crawl over to where I lay in
my fur bag, and die there, huddling by me--and such cries--such cries!
There was poison or something in the frozen fish I'd given them.  I loved
them every one; and then there was the mails, the year's mails--how
should they be brought on?  That was a bad thought, for I had never
missed--never in ten years.  There was one bunch of letters which the
governor said to me was worth more than all the rest of the mails put
together, and I was to bring it to Fort St. Saviour, or not show my face
to him again.  I leave the dogs there in the snow, and come on with the
sled, carrying all the mails.  Ah, the blessed saints, how heavy the sled
got, and how lonely it was!  Nothing to speak to--no one, no thing, day
after day.  At last I go to cry to the dogs, "Come-along!  'Poleon!
Brandy-wine!"--like that!  I think I see them there, but they never bark
and they never snarl, and they never spring to the snap of the whip....
I was alone.  Oh, my head!  my head!  If there was only something alive
to look at, besides the wide white plain, and the bare hills of ice, and
the sun-dogs in the sky!  Now I was wild, next hour I was like a child,
then I gnash my teeth like a wolf at the sun, and at last I got on my
knees.  The tears froze my eyelids shut, but I kept saying, "Ah, my great
Friend, my Jesu, just something, something with the breath of life!
Leave me not all alone!" and I got sleepier all the time.

"'I was sinking, sinking, so quiet and easy, when all at once I felt
something beside me; I could hear it breathing, but I could not open my
eyes at first, for, as I say, the lashes were froze.  Something touch me,
smell me, and a nose was push against my chest.  I put out my hand ver'
soft and touch it.  I had no fear, I was so glad I could have hug it, but
I did not--I drew back my hand quiet and rub my eyes.  In a little I can
see.  There stand the thing--a polar bear--not ten feet away, its red
eyes shining.  On my knees I spoke to it, talk to it, as I would to a
man.  It was like a great wild dog, fierce, yet kind, and I fed it with
the fish which had been for Brandy-wine and the rest--but not to kill it!
and it did not die.  That night I lie down in my bag--no, I was not
afraid!  The bear lie beside me, between me and the sled.  Ah, it was
warm!  Day after day we travel together, and camp together at night--ah,
sweet Sainte Anne, how good it was, myself and the wild beast such
friends, alone in the north!  But to-day--a little while ago--something
went wrong with me, and I got sick in the head, a swimming like a tide
wash in and out.  I fall down-asleep.  When I wake I find you here beside
me--that is all.  The bear must have drag me here.'"

Pierre stuck a splinter into the fire to light another cigarette, and
paused as if expecting the governor to speak, but no word coming, he
continued: "I had my arm around him while we talked and come slowly down
the hill.  Soon he stopped and said, 'This is the place.' It was a cave
of ice, and we went in.  Nothing was there to see except the sled.
Babiche stopped short.  It come to him now that his good comrade was
gone.  He turned, and looked out, and called, but there was only the
empty night, the ice, and the stars.  Then he come back, sat down on the
sled, and the tears fall.  .  .  .  I lit my spirit-lamp, boiled coffee,
got pemmican from my bag, and I tried to make him eat.  No.  He would
only drink the coffee.  At last he said to me, 'What day is this,
Pierre?'  'It is the day of the Great Birth, Babiche,' I said.  He made
the sign of the cross, and was quiet, so quiet!  but he smile to himself,
and kept saying in a whisper: 'Ma p'tite Corinne!  Ma p'tite Corinne!'
The next day we come on safe, and in a week I was back at Fort St.
Saviour with Babiche and all the mails, and that most wonderful letter
of the governor's."

"The letter was to tell a factor that his sick child in the hospital at
Quebec was well," the governor responded quietly.  "Who was 'Ma p'tite
Corinne,' Pierre?"

"His wife--in heaven; and his child--on the Chaudiere, m'sieu'.  The
child came and the mother went on the same day of the Great Birth.  He
has a soft heart--that Babiche!"

"And the white bear--so strange a thing!"

"M'sieu', who can tell?  The world is young up here.  When it was all
young, man and beast were good comrades, maybe."

"Ah, maybe.  What shall be done with Little Babiche, Pierre?"

"He will never be the same again on the old trail, m'sieu'!"

There was silence for a long time, but at last the governor said, musing,
almost tenderly, for he never had a child: "Ma p'tite Corinne!--Little
Babiche shall live near his child, Pierre.  I will see to that."

Pierre said no word, but got up, took off his hat to the governor, and
sat down again.



AT POINT O' BUGLES

"John York, John York, where art thou gone, John York?"

"What's that, Pierre?" said Sir Duke Lawless, starting to his feet and
peering round.

"Hush!" was Pierre's reply.  "Wait for the rest.  .  .  .  There!"

"King of my heart, king of my heart, I am out on the trail of thy
bugles."

Sir Duke was about to speak, but Pierre lifted a hand in warning, and
then through the still night there came the long cry of a bugle, rising,
falling, strangely clear, echoing and echoing again, and dying away.  A
moment, and the call was repeated, with the same effect, and again a
third time; then all was still, save for the flight of birds roused from
the desire of night, and the long breath of some animal in the woods
sinking back to sleep.

Their camp was pitched on the south shore of Hudson's Bay, many leagues
to the west of Rupert House, not far from the Moose River.  Looking north
was the wide expanse of the bay, dotted with sterile islands here and
there; to the east were the barren steppes of Labrador, and all round
them the calm, incisive air of a late September, when winter begins to
shake out his frosty curtains and hang them on the cornice of the north,
despite the high protests of the sun.  The two adventurers had come
together after years of separation, and Sir Duke had urged Pierre to fare
away with him to Hudson's Bay, which he had never seen, although he had
shares in the great Company, left him by his uncle the admiral.

They were camped in a hollow, to the right a clump of hardy trees, with
no great deal of foliage, but some stoutness; to the left a long finger
of land running out into the water like a wedge, the most eastern point
of the western shore of Hudson's Bay.  It was high and bold, and,
somehow, had a fine dignity and beauty.  From it a path led away north to
a great log-fort called King's House.

Lawless saw Pierre half rise and turn his head, listening.  Presently he,
too, heard the sound-the soft crash of crisp grass under the feet.  He
raised himself to a sitting posture and waited.

Presently a tall figure came out of the dusk into the light of their
fire, and a long arm waved a greeting at them.  Both Lawless and Pierre
rose to their feet.  The stranger was dressed in buckskin, he carried a
rifle, and around his shoulder was a strong yellow cord, from which hung
a bugle.

"How!" he said, with a nod, and drew near the fire, stretching out his
hands to the blaze.

"How!" said Lawless and Pierre.

After a moment Lawless drew from his blanket a flask of brandy, and
without a word handed it over the fire.  The fingers of the two men met
in the flicker of flames, a sort of bond by fire, and the stranger raised
the flask.

"Chin-chin," he said, and drank, breathing a long sigh of satisfaction
afterwards as he handed it back; but it was Pierre that took it, and
again fingers touched in the bond of fire.  Pierre passed the flask to
Lawless, who lifted it.

"Chin-chin," he said, drank, and gave the flask to Pierre again, who did
as did the others, and said "Chin-chin" also.

By that salutation of the east, given in the far north, Lawless knew that
he had met one who had lighted fires where men are many and close to the
mile as holes in a sieve.

They all sat down, and tobacco went round, the stranger offering his,
while the two others, with true hospitality, accepted.

"We heard you over there--it was you?" said Lawless, nodding towards
Point o' Bugles, and glancing at the bugle the other carried.

"Yes, it was I," was the reply.  "Someone always does it twice a year: on
the 25th September and the 25th March.  I've done it now without a break
for ten years, until it has got to be a sort of religion with me, and the
whole thing's as real as if King George and John York were talking.  As I
tramp to the point or swing away back, in summer barefooted, in winter on
my snowshoes, to myself I seem to be John York on the trail of the king's
bugles.  I've thought so much about the whole thing, I've read so many of
John York's letters--and how many times one of the King's!--that now I
scarcely know which is the bare story, and which the bit's I've dreamed
as I've tramped over the plains or sat in the quiet at King's House,
spelling out little by little the man's life, from the cues I found in
his journal, in the Company's papers, and in that one letter of the
King's."

Pierre's eyes were now more keen than those of Lawless: for years he had
known vaguely of this legend of Point o' Bugles.

"You know it all," he said--"begin at the beginning: how and when you
first heard, how you got the real story, and never mind which is taken
from the papers and which from your own mind--if it all fits in it is all
true, for the lie never fits in right with the square truth.  If you have
the footprints and the handprints you can tell the whole man; if you have
the horns of a deer you know it as if you had killed it, skinned it, and
potted it."

The stranger stretched himself before the fire, nodding at his hosts as
he did so, and then began:

"Well, a word about myself first," he said, "so you'll know just where
you are.  I was full up of life in London town and India, and that's a
fact.  I'd plenty of friends and little money, and my will wasn't equal
to the task of keeping out of the hands of the Jews.  I didn't know what
to do, but I had to go somewhere, that was clear.  Where?  An accident
decided it.  I came across an old journal of my great-grandfather, John
York,--my name's Dick Adderley,--and just as if a chain had been put
round my leg and I'd been jerked over by the tipping of the world, I had
to come to Hudson's Bay.  John York's journal was a thing to sit up
nights to read.  It came back to England after he'd had his fill of
Hudson's Bay and the earth beneath, and had gone, as he himself said on
the last page of the journal, to follow the king's buglers in 'the land
that is far off.'  God and the devil were strong in old John York.
I didn't lose much time after I'd read the journal.  I went to Hudson's
Bay house in London, got a place in the Company, by the help of the
governor himself, and came out.  I've learned the rest of the history of
old John York--the part that never got to England; for here at King's
House there's a holy tradition that the real John York belongs to it and
to it alone."

Adderley laughed a little.  "King's House guards John York's memory, and
it's as fresh and real here now as though he'd died yesterday; though
it's forgotten in England, and by most who bear his name, and the present
Prince of Wales maybe never heard of the roan who was a close friend of
the Prince Regent, the First Gentleman of Europe."

"That sounds sweet gossip," said Lawless, with a smile; "we're waiting."

Adderley continued: "John York was an honest man, of wholesome sport,
jovial, and never shirking with the wine, commendable in his appetite,
of rollicking soul and proud temper, and a gay dog altogether--gay, but
to be trusted, too, for he had a royal heart.  In the coltish days of the
Prince Regent he was a boon comrade, but never did he stoop to flattery,
nor would he hedge when truth should be spoken, as ofttimes it was needed
with the royal blade, for at times he would forget that a prince was yet
a man, topped with the accident of a crown.  Never prince had truer
friend, and so in his best hours he thought, himself, and if he ever was
just and showed his better part, it was to the bold country gentleman who
never minced praise or blame, but said his say and devil take the end of
it.  In truth, the Prince was wilful, and once he did a thing which might
have given a twist to the fate of England.  Hot for the love of women,
and with some dash of real romance in him too, else even as a prince he
might have had shallower love and service,--he called John York one day
and said:

"'To-night at seven, Squire John, you'll stand with me while I put the
seal on the Gates of Eden;' and, when the other did not guess his import,
added: 'Sir Mark Selby is your neighbour--his daughter's for my arms to-
night.  You know her, handsome Sally Selby--she's for your prince, for
good or ill.'

"John York did not understand at first, for he could not think the Prince
had anything in mind but some hot escapade of love.  When Mistress
Selby's name was mentioned his heart stood still, for she had been his
choice, the dear apple of his eye, since she had bloomed towards
womanhood.  He had set all his hopes upon her, tarrying till she should
have seen some little life before he asked her for his wife.  He had her
father's Godspeed to his wooing, for he was a man whom all men knew
honest and generous as the sun, and only choleric with the mean thing.
She, also, had given him good cause to think that he should one day take
her to his home, a loved and honoured wife.  His impulse, when her name
passed the Prince's lips, was to draw his sword, for he would have called
an emperor to account; but presently he saw the real meaning of the
speech: that the Prince would marry her that night."

Here the story-teller paused again, and Pierre said softly, inquiringly:

"You began to speak in your own way, and you've come to another way--like
going from an almanac to the Mass."

The other smiled.  "That's so.  I've heard it told by old Shearton at
King's House, who speaks as if he'd stepped out of Shakespeare, and
somehow I seem to hear him talking, and I tell it as he told it last year
to the governor of the Company.  Besides, I've listened these seven years
to his style."

"It's a strange beginning--unwritten history of England," said Sir Duke
musingly.

"You shall hear stranger things yet," answered Adderley.  "John York
could hardly believe it at first, for the thought of such a thing never
had place in his mind.  Besides, the Prince knew how he had looked upon
the lady, and he could not have thought his comrade would come in between
him and his happiness.  Perhaps it was the difficulty, adding spice to
the affair, that sent the Prince to the appeal of private marriage to win
the lady, and John York always held that he loved her truly then, the
first and only real affection of his life.  The lady--who can tell what
won her over from the honest gentleman to the faithless prince?  That
soul of vanity which wraps about the real soul of every woman fell down
at last before the highest office in the land, and the gifted bearer of
the office.  But the noble spirit in her brought him to offer marriage,
when he might otherwise have offered, say, a barony.  There is a record
of that and more in John York's Memoirs which I will tell you, for they
have settled in my mind like an old song, and I learned them long ago.
I give you John York's words written by his own hands:

"'I did not think when I beheld thee last, dearest flower of the world's
garden, that I should see thee bloom in that wide field, rank with the
sorrows of royal favour.  How did my foolish eyes fill with tears when I
watched thee, all rose and gold in thy cheeks and hair, the light falling
on thee through the chapel window, putting thy pure palm into my
prince's, swearing thy life away, selling the very blossoms of earth's
orchards for the brier beauty of a hidden vineyard!  I saw the flying
glories of thy cheeks, the halcyon weather of thy smile, the delicate
lifting of thy bosom, the dear gaiety of thy step, and, at that moment,
I mourned for thy sake that thou wert not the dullest wench in the land,
for then thou hadst been spared thy miseries, thou hadst been saved the
torture-boot of a lost love and a disacknowledged wifedom.  Yet I could
not hide from me that thou wert happy at that great moment, when he swore
to love and cherish thee, till death you parted.

"Ah, George, my prince, my king, how wickedly thou didst break thy vows
with both of us who loved thee well, through good and ill report--for
they spake evil of thee, George; ay, the meanest of thy subjects spake
lightly of their king--when with that sweet soul secretly hid away in
the farthest corner of thy kingdom, thou soughtst divorce from thy later
Caroline, whom thou, unfaithful, didst charge with infidelity.  When, at
last, thou didst turn again to the partner of thy youth, thy true wife in
the eyes of God, it was too late.  Thou didst promise me that thou
wouldst never take another wife, never put our dear heart away, though
she could not--after our miserable laws--bear thee princes.  Thou didst
break thy promise, yet she forgave thee, and I forgave thee, for well we
knew that thou wouldst pay a heavy reckoning, and that in the hour when
thou shouldst cry to us we might not come to thee; that in the days when
age and sorrow and vast troubles should oppress thee, thou wouldst long
for the true hearts who loved thee for thyself and not for aught thou
wudst give, or aught that thou wert, save as a man.

"'When thou didst proclaim thy purpose to take Caroline to wife, I
pleaded with thee, I was wroth with thee.  Thy one plea was succession.
Succession!  Succession!  What were a hundred dynasties beside that
precious life, eaten by shame and sorrow?  It were easy for others, not
thy children, to come after thee, to rule as well as thee, as must even
now be the case, for thou hast no lawful child save that one in the
loneliest corner of thy English vineyard--alack! alack!  I warned thee
George, I pleaded, and thou didst drive me out with words ill-suited to
thy friend who loved thee.

"'I did not fear thee, I would have forced thee to thy knees or made thee
fight me, had not some good spirit cried to my heart that thou wert her
husband, and that we both had loved thee.  I dared not listen to the
brutal thing thou hintedst at--that now I might fatten where I had
hungered.  Thou hadst to answer for the baseness of that thought to the
King of kings, when thou wentest forth alone, no subject, courtier,
friend, wife, or child to do thee service, journeying--not en prince,
George; no, not en prince!  but as a naked soul to God.

"'Thou saidst to me: "Get thee gone, John York, where I shall no more see
thee."  And when I returned, "Wouldst thou have me leave thy country,
sir?" thou answeredst: "Blow thy quarrelsome soul to the stars where my
farthest bugle cries."  Then I said: "I go, sir, till thou callest me
again--and after; but not till thou hast honoured the child of thy honest
wedlock; till thou hast secured thy wife to the end of her life against
all manner of trouble save the shame of thy disloyalty."  There was no
more for me to do, for my deep love itself forbade my staying longer
within reach of the noble deserted soul.  And so I saw the chastened
glory of her face no more, nor evermore beheld her perfectness.'"

Adderley paused once more, and, after refilling his pipe in silence,
continued:

"That was the heart of the thing.  His soul sickened of the rank world,
as he called it, and he came out to the Hudson's Bay country, leaving his
estates in care of his nephew, but taking many stores and great chests of
clothes and a shipload of furniture, instruments of music, more than a
thousand books, some good pictures, and great stores of wine.  Here he
came and stayed, an officer of the Company, building King's House, and
filling it with all the fine things he had brought with him, making in
this far north a little palace in the wilderness.  Here he lived, his
great heart growing greater in this wide sinewy world, King's House a
place of pilgrimage for all the Company's men in the north; a noble
gentleman in a sweet exile, loving what he could no more, what he did no
more, see.

"Twice a year he went to that point yonder and blew this bugle, no man
knew why or wherefore, year in, year out, till 1817.  Then there came a
letter to him with great seals, which began: 'John York, John York,
where art thou gone, John York?'  There followed a score of sorrowful
sentences, full of petulance, too, for it was as John York foretold, his
prince longed for the 'true souls' whom he had cast off.  But he called
too late, for the neglected wife died from the shock of her prince's
longing message to her, and when, by the same mail, John York knew that,
he would not go back to England to the King.  But twice every year he
went to yonder point and spoke out the King's words to him: 'John York,
John York, where art thou gone, John York?' and gave the words of his own
letter in reply: 'King of my heart, king of my heart, I am out on the
trail of thy bugles.'  To this he added three calls of the bugle, as you
have heard."

Adderley handed the bugle to Lawless, who looked at it with deep interest
and passed it on to Pierre.  "When he died," Adderley continued, "he left
the house, the fittings, and the stores to the officers of the Company
who should be stationed there, with a sum of money yearly, provided that
twice in twelve months the bugle should be blown as you have heard it,
and those words called out."

"Why did he do that?" asked Lawless, nodding towards the point.

"Why do they swing the censers at the Mass?" interjected Pierre.  "Man
has signs for memories, and one man seeing another's sign will remember
his own."

"You stay because you like it--at King's House?" asked Lawless of
Adderley.

The other stretched himself lazily to the fire and, "I am at home," he
said.  "I have no cares.  I had all there was of that other world; I've
not had enough of this.  You'll come with me to King's House to-morrow?"
he added.

To their quick assent he rejoined: "You'll never want to leave.  You'll
stay on."

To this Lawless replied, shaking his head: "I have a wife and child in
England."

But Pierre did not reply.  He lifted the bugle, mutely asking a question
of Adderley, who as mutely replied, and then, with it in his hand, left
the other two beside the fire.

A few minutes later they heard, with three calls of the bugle from the
point afterwards, Pierre's voice: "John York, John York, where art thou
gone, John York?"

Then came the reply:

"King of my heart, king of my heart, I am out on the trail of thy
bugles."



THE SPOIL OF THE PUMA

Just at the point where the Peace River first hugs the vast outpost hills
of the Rockies, before it hurries timorously on, through an unexplored
region, to Fort St. John, there stood a hut.  It faced the west, and was
built half-way up Clear Mountain.  In winter it had snows above it and
below it; in summer it had snow above it and a very fair stretch of trees
and grass, while the river flowed on the same, winter and summer.  It was
a lonely country.  Travelling north, you would have come to the Turnagain
River; west, to the Frying Pan Mountains; south, to a goodly land.  But
from the hut you had no outlook towards the south; your eye came plump
against a hard lofty hill, like a wall between heaven and earth.  It is
strange, too, that, when you are in the far north, you do not look
towards the south until the north turns an iron hand upon you and refuses
the hospitality of food and fire; your eyes are drawn towards the Pole by
that charm--deadly and beautiful--for which men have given up three
points of the compass, with their pleasures and ease, to seek a grave
solitude, broken only by the beat of a musk-ox's hoofs, the long breath
of the caribou, or the wild cry of the puma.

Sir Duke Lawless had felt this charm, and had sworn that one day he would
again leave his home in Devon and his house in Pont Street, and, finding
Pierre, Shon M'Gann, and others of his old comrades, together they would
travel into those austere yet pleasant wilds.  He kept his word, found
Shon M'Gann, and on an autumn day of a year not so long ago lounged in
this hut on Clear Mountain.  They had had three months of travel and
sport, and were filled, but not sated, with the joy of the hunter.  They
were very comfortable, for their host, Pourcette, the French Canadian,
had fire and meat in plenty, and, if silent, was attentive to their
comfort--a little, black-bearded, grey-headed man, with heavy brows over
small vigilant eyes, deft with his fingers, and an excellent sportsman,
as could be told from the skins heaped in all the corners of the large
hut.

The skins were not those of mere foxes or martens or deer, but of
mountain lions and grizzlies.  There were besides many soft, tiger-like
skins, which Sir Duke did not recognise.  He kept looking at them, and at
last went over and examined one.

"What's this, Monsieur Pourcette?" he said, feeling it as it lay on the
top of the pile.

The little man pushed the log on the fireplace with his moccasined foot
before he replied: "Of a puma, m'sieu'."

Sir Duke smoothed it with his hand.  "I didn't know there were pumas
here."

"Faith, Sir Duke--"

Sir Duke Lawless turned on Shon quickly.  "You're forgetting again, Shon.
There's no 'Sir Dukes' between us.  What you were to me years ago on the
wally-by-track and the buffalo-trail, you are now, and I'm the same also:
M'Gann and Lawless, and no other."

"Well, then, Lawless, it's true enough as he says it, for I've seen more
than wan skin brought in, though I niver clapped eye on the beast alive.
There's few men go huntin' them av their own free will, not more than
they do grizzlies; but, bedad, this French gintleman has either the luck
o' the world, or the gift o' that man ye tould me of, that slew the wild
boars in anciency.  Look at that, now: there's thirty or forty puma-
skins, and I'd take my oath there isn't another man in the country that's
shot half that in his lifetime."

Pourcette's eyes were on the skins, not on the men, and he did not appear
to listen.  He sat leaning forward, with a strange look on his face.
Presently he got up, came over, and stroked the skins softly.  A queer
chuckling noise came from his throat.

"It was good sport?" asked Lawless, feeling a new interest in him.

"The grandest sport--but it is not so easy," answered the old man.  "The
grizzly comes on you bold and strong; you know your danger right away,
and have it out.  So.  But the puma comes--God, how the puma comes!"  He
broke off, his eyes burning bright under his bushy brows and his body
arranging itself into an attitude of expectation and alertness.

"You have travelled far.  The sun goes down.  You build a fire and cook
your meat, and then good tea and the tabac.  It is ver' fine.  You hear
the loon crying on the water, or the last whistle of the heron up the
pass.  The lights in the sky come out and shine through a thin mist--
there is nothing like that mist, it is so fine and soft.  Allons.  You
are sleepy.  You bless the good God.  You stretch pine branches, wrap in
your blanket, and lie down to sleep.  If it is winter and you have a
friend, you lie close.  It is all quiet.  As you sleep, something comes.
It slides along the ground on its belly, like a snake.  It is a pity if
you have not ears that feel--the whole body as ears.  For there is a
swift lunge, a snarl--ah, you should hear it! the thing has you by the
throat, and there is an end!"

The old man had acted all the scenes: a sidelong glance, a little
gesture, a movement of the body, a quick, harsh breath--without emphatic
excitement, yet with a reality and force that fascinated his two
listeners.  When he paused, Shon let go a long breath, and Lawless looked
with keen inquiry at their entertainer.  This almost unnatural, yet
quiet, intensity had behind it something besides the mere spirit of the
sportsman.  Such exhibitions of feeling generally have an unusual
personal interest to give them point and meaning.

"Yes, that's wonderful, Pourcette," he said; "but that's when the puma
has things its own way.  How is it when these come off?"  He stroked the
soft furs under his hand.

The man laughed, yet without a sound--the inward, stealthy laugh, as from
a knowledge wicked in its very suggestiveness.  His eyes ran from Lawless
to Shon, and back again.  He put his hand on his mouth, as though for
silence, stole noiselessly over to the wall, took down his gun quietly,
and turned round.  Then he spoke softly:

"To kill the puma, you must watch--always watch.  You will see his yellow
eyes sometimes in a tree: you must be ready before he springs.  You will
hear his breath at night as you pretend to sleep, and you wait till you
see his foot steal out of the shadow--then you have him.  From a mountain
wall you watch in the morning, and, when you see him, you follow, and
follow, and do not rest till you have found him.  You must never miss
fire, for he has great strength and a mad tooth.  But when you have got
him, he is worth all.  You cannot eat the grizzly--he is too thick and
coarse; but the puma--well, you had him from the pot to-night.  Was he
not good?"

Lawless's brows ran up in surprise.  Shon spoke quickly:

"Heaven above!" he burst out.  "Was it puma we had betune the teeth?
And what's puma but an almighty cat?  Sure, though, it wint as tinder
as pullets, for all that--but I wish you hadn't tould us."

The old man stood leaning on his gun, his chin on his hands, as they
covered the muzzle, his eyes fixed on something in his memory, the vision
of incidents he had lived or seen.

Lawless went over to the fire and relit his pipe.  Shon followed him.
They both watched Pourcette.  "D'ye think he's mad?" asked Shon in a
whisper.  Lawless shook his head: "Mad?  No.  But there's more in this
puma-hunting than appears.  How long has he lived here, did he say?"

"Four years; and, durin' that time, yours and mine are the only white
faces he has seen, except one."

"Except one.  Well, whose was the one?  That might be interesting.  Maybe
there's a story in that."

"Faith, Lawless, there's a story worth the hearin', I'm thinkin', to
every white man in this country.  For the three years I was in the
mounted police, I could count a story for all the days o' the calendar
--and not all o' them would make you happy to hear."

Pourcette turned round to them.  He seemed to be listening to Shon's
words.  Going to the wall, he hung up the rifle; then he came to the fire
and stood holding out his hands to the blaze.  He did not look in the
least mad, but like a man who was dominated by some one thought, more
or less weird.  Short and slight, and a little bent, but more from habit
--the habit of listening and watching--than from age, his face had a
stern kind of earnestness and loneliness, and nothing at all of insanity.

Presently Lawless went to a corner and from his kit drew forth a flask.
The old man saw, and immediately brought out a wooden cup.  There were
two on the shelf, and Shon pointed to the other.  Pourcette took no
notice.  Shon went over to get it, but Pourcette laid a hand on his arm:
"Not that."

"For ornamint!" said Shon, laughing, and then his eyes were arrested by
a suit of buckskin and a cap of beaver, hanging on the wall.  He turned
them over, and then suddenly drew back his hand, for he saw in the back
of the jacket a knife-slit.  There was blood also on the buckskin.

"Holy Mary!" he said, and retreated.  Lawless had not noticed; he was
pouring out the liquor.  He had handed the cup first to Pourcette, who
raised it towards a gun hung above the fireplace, and said something
under his breath.

"A dramatic little fellow," thought Lawless; "the spirit of his
forefathers--a good deal of heart, a little of the poseur."

Then hearing Shon's exclamation, he turned.

"It's an ugly sight," said Shon, pointing to the jacket.  They both
looked at Pourcette, expecting him to speak.  The old man reached to the
coat, and, turning it so that the cut and the blood were hid, ran his
hand down it caressingly.  "Ah, poor Jo!  poor Jo Gordineer!" he said;
then he came over once more to the fire, sat down, and held out his hands
to the fire, shaking his head.

"For God's sake, Lawless, give me a drink!" said Shon.  Their eyes met,
and there was the same look in the faces of both.  When Shon had drunk,
he said: "So, that's what's come to our old friend, Jo: dead--killed or
murdered--"

"Don't speak so loud," said Lawless.  "Let us get the story from him
first."

Years before, when Shon M'Gann and Pierre and Lawless had sojourned in
the Pipi Valley, Jo Gordineer had been with them, as stupid and true a
man as ever drew in his buckle in a hungry land, or let it out to munch
corn and oil.  When Lawless returned to find Shon and others of his
companions, he had asked for Gordineer.  But not Shon nor anyone else
could tell aught of him; he had wandered north to outlying goldfields,
and then had disappeared completely.  But there, as it would seem, his
coat and cap hung, and his rifle, dust-covered, kept guard over the fire.

Shon went over to the coat, did as Pourcette had done, and said: "Is it
gone y'are, Jo, wid your slow tongue and your big heart?  Wan by wan the
lads are off."

Pourcette, without any warning, began speaking, but in a very quiet tone
at first, as if unconscious of the others:

"Poor Jo Gordineer!  Yes, he is gone.  He was my friend--so tall, and
such a hunter!  We were at the Ding Dong goldfields together.  When luck
went bad, I said to him: 'Come, we will go where there is plenty of wild
meat, and a summer more beautiful than in the south.'  I did not want to
part from him, for once, when some miner stole my claim, and I fought, he
stood by me.  But in some things he was a little child.  That was from
his big heart.  Well, he would go, he said; and we came away."

He suddenly became silent; and shook his head, and spoke under his
breath.

"Yes," said Lawless quietly, "you went away.  What then?"

He looked up quickly, as though just aware of their presence, and
continued:

"Well, the other followed, as I said, and--"

"No, Pourcette," interposed Lawless, "you didn't say.  Who was the other
that followed?"

The old man looked at him gravely, and a little severely, and continued:

"As I said, Gawdor followed--he and an Indian.  Gawdor thought we were
going for gold, because I had said I knew a place in the north where
there was gold in a river--I know the place, but that is no matter.  We
did not go for gold just then.  Gawdor hated Jo Gordineer.  There was a
half-breed girl.  She was fine to look at.  She would have gone to
Gordineer if he had beckoned, any time; but he waited--he was very slow,
except with his finger on a gun; he waited too long.

"Gawdor was mad for the girl.  He knew why her feet came slow to the door
when he knocked.  He would have quarrelled with Jo, if he had dared;
Gordineer was too quick a shot.  He would have killed him from behind;
but it was known in the camp that he was no friend of Gordineer, and it
was not safe."

Again Pourcette was silent.  Lawless put on his knee a new pipe, filled
with tobacco.  The little man took it, lighted it, and smoked on in
silence for a time undisturbed.  Shon broke the silence, by a whisper to
Lawless:

"Jo was a quiet man, as patient as a priest; but when his blood came up,
there was trouble in the land.  Do you remimber whin--"

Lawless interrupted him and motioned towards Pourcette.  The old man,
after a few puffs, held the pipe on his knee, disregarding it.  Lawless
silently offered him some more whisky, but he shook his head.  Presently,
he again took up the thread:

"Bien, we travelled slow up through the smoky river country, and beyond
into a wild land.  We had bully sport as we went.  Sometimes I heard
shots far away behind us; but Gordineer said it was my guess, for we saw
nobody.  But I had a feeling.  Never mind.  At last we come to the Peace
River.  It was in the early autumn like this, when the land is full of
comfort.  What is there like it?  Nothing.  The mountains have colours
like a girl's eyes; the smell of the trees is sweet like a child's
breath, and the grass feels for the foot and lifts it with a little soft
spring.  We said we could live here for ever.  We built this house high
up, as you see, first, because it is good to live high--it puts life in
the blood; and, as Gordineer said, it is noble to look far over the
world, every time your house-door is open, or the parchment is down from
the window.  We killed wapiti and caribou without number, and cached them
for our food.  We caught fish in the river, and made tea out of the brown
berry--it is very good.  We had flour, a little, which we had brought
with us, and I went to Fort St. John and got more.  Since then, down in
the valley, I have wheat every summer; for the Chinook winds blow across
the mountains and soften the bitter cold.

"Well, for that journey to Fort St. John.  When I got back I found Gawdor
with Gordineer.  He said he had come north to hunt.  His Indian had left,
and he had lost his way.  Gordineer believed him.  He never lied himself.
I said nothing, but watched.  After a time he asked where the gold-field
was.  I told him, and he started away--it was about fifty miles to the
north.  He went, and on his way back he come here.  He say he could not
find the place, and was going south.  I know he lied.  At this time I saw
that Gordineer was changed.  He was slow in the head, and so, when he
began thinking up here, it made him lonely.  It is always in a fine land
like this, where game is plenty, and the heart dances for joy in your
throat, and you sit by the fire--that you think of some woman who would
be glad to draw in and tie the strings of the tent-curtain, or fasten the
latch of the door upon you two alone."

Perhaps some memory stirred within the old man, other than that of his
dead comrade, for he sighed, muffled his mouth in his beard, and then
smiled in a distant way at the fire.  The pure truth of what he said came
home to Shon M'Gann and Sir Duke Lawless; for both, in days gone by, had
sat at camp-fires in silent plains, and thought upon women from whom they
believed they were parted for ever, yet who were only kept from them for
a time, to give them happier days.  They were thinking of these two women
now.  They scarcely knew how long they sat there thinking.  Time passes
swiftly when thoughts are cheerful, or are only tinged with the soft
melancholy of a brief separation.  Memory is man's greatest friend and
worst enemy.

At last the old man continued: "I saw the thing grew on him.  He was not
sulky, but he stare much in the fire at night.  In the daytime he was
differen'.  A hunter thinks only of his sport.  Gawdor watched him.
Gordineer's hand was steady; his nerve was all right.  I have seen him
stand still till a grizzly come within twice the length of his gun.  Then
he would twist his mouth, and fire into the mortal spot.  Once we were
out in the Wide Wing pass.  We had never had such a day.  Gordineer make
grand shots, better than my own; and men have said I can shoot like the
devil--ha! ha!"  He chuckled to himself noiselessly, and said in a
whisper "Twenty grizzlies, and fifty pumas!"

Then he rubbed his hands softly on his knees, and spoke aloud again:
"Ici, I was proud of him.  We were standing together on a ledge of rock.
Gawdor was not far away.  Gawdor was a poor hunter, and I knew he was
wild at Gordineer's great luck....  A splendid bull-wapiti come out on a
rock across the gully.  It was a long shot.  I did not think Gordineer
could make it; I was not sure that I could--the wind was blowing and the
range was long.  But he draw up his gun like lightning, and fire all at
once.  The bull dropped clean over the cliff, and tumbled dead upon the
rocks below.  It was fine.  But, then, Gordineer slung his gun under his
arm, and say: 'That is enough.  I am going to the hut.'

"He went away.  That night he did not talk.  The next morning, when I
say, 'We will be off again to the pass,' he shake his head.  He would
not go.  He would shoot no more, he said.  I understood: it was the girl.
He was wide awake at last.  Gawdor understanded also.  He know that
Gordineer would go to the south--to her.

"I was sorry; but it was no use.  Gawdor went with me to the pass.  When
we come back, Jo was gone.  On a bit of birch-bark he had put where he
was going, and the way he would take.  He said he would come back to me
--ah, the brave comrade!  Gawdor say nothing, but his looks were black.
I had a feeling.  I sat up all night, smoking.  I was not afraid, but I
know Gawdor had found the valley of gold, and he might put a knife in me,
because to know of such a thing alone is fine.  Just at dawn, he got up
and go out.  He did not come back.

"I waited, and at last went to the pass.  In the afternoon, just as I was
rounding the corner of a cliff, there was a shot--then another.  The
first went by my head; the second caught me along the ribs, but not to
great hurt.  Still, I fell from the shock, and lost some blood.  It was
Gawdor; he thought he had killed me.

"When I come to myself I bound up the little furrow in the flesh, and
start away.  I know that Gawdor would follow Gordineer.  I follow him,
knowing the way he must take.  I have never forget the next night.
I had to travel hard, and I track him by his fires and other things.
When sunset come, I do not stop.  I was in a valley, and I push on.
There was a little moon.  At last I saw a light ahead-a camp-fire, I
know.  I was weak, and could have dropped; but a dread was on me.

"I come to the fire.  I saw a man lying near it.  Just as I saw him, he
was trying to rise.  But, as he did so, something sprang out of the
shadow upon him, at his throat.  I saw him raise his hand, and strike it
with a knife.  The thing let go, and then I fire--but only scratched, I
think.  It was a puma.  It sprang away again, into the darkness.  I ran
to the man, and raised him.  It was my friend.  He looked up at me and
shake his head.  He was torn at the throat....  But there was something
else--a wound in the back.  He was stooping over the fire when he was
stabbed, and he fell.  He saw that it was Gawdor.  He had been left for
dead, as I was.  Nom de Dieu!  just when I come and could have save him,
the puma come also.  It is the best men who have such luck.  I have seen
it often.  I used to wonder they did not curse God."

He crossed himself and mumbled something.  Lawless rose, and walked up
and down the room once or twice, pulling at his beard and frowning.  His
eyes were wet.  Shon kept blowing into his closed hand and blinking at
the fire.  Pourcette got up and took down the gun from the chimney.  He
brushed off the dust with his coat-sleeve, and fondled it, shaking his
head at it a little.  As he began to speak again, Lawless sat down.

"Now I know why they do not curse.  Something curses for them.  Jo give
me a word for her, and say 'Well, it is all right; but I wish I had
killed the puma.'  There was nothing more.  .  .  .  I followed Gawdor
for days.  I know that he would go and get someone, and go back to the
gold.  I thought at last I had missed him; but no.  I had made up my mind
what to do when I found him.  One night, just as the moon was showing
over the hills, I come upon him.  I was quiet as a puma.  I have a stout
cord in my pocket, and another about my body.  Just as he was stooping
over the fire, as Gordineer did, I sprang upon him, clasping him about
the neck, and bringing him to the ground.  He could not get me off.  I am
small, but I have a grip.  Then, too, I had one hand at his throat.  It
was no use to struggle.  The cord and a knife were in my teeth.  It was a
great trick, but his breath was well gone, and I fastened his hands.  It
was no use to struggle.  I tied his feet and legs.  Then I carried him to
a tree and bound him tight.  I unfastened his hands again and tied them
round the tree.  Then I built a great fire not far away.  He begged at
first and cried.  But I was hard.  He got wild, and at last when I leave
him he cursed!  It was like nothing I ever heard.  He was a devil.  .  .
I come back after I have carry the message to the poor girl--it is a sad
thing to see the first great grief of the young!  Gawdor was not there.
The pumas and others had been with him.

"There was more to do.  I wanted to kill that puma which set its teeth in
the throat of my friend.  I hunted the woods where it had happened,
beating everywhere, thinking that, perhaps, it was dead.  There was not
much blood on the leaves, so I guessed that it had not died.  I hunted
from that spot, and killed many--many.  I saw that they began to move
north.  At last I got back here.  From here I have hunted and killed them
slow; but never that one with a wound in the shoulder from Jo's knife.
Still, I can wait.  There is nothing like patience for the hunter and
for the man who would have blood for blood."

He paused, and Lawless spoke.  "And when you have killed that puma,
Pourcette--if you ever do-what then?"

Pourcette fondled the gun, then rose and hung it up again before he
replied.

"Then I will go to Fort St. John, to the girl--she is there with her
father--and sell all the skins to the factor, and give her the money."
He waved his hand round the room.  "There are many skins here, but I have
more cached not far away.  Once a year I go to the Fort for flour and
bullets.  A dog-team and a bois-brule bring them, and then I am alone as
before.  When all that is done I will come back."

"And then, Pourcette?" said Shon.

"Then I will hang that one skin over the chimney where his gun is--and go
out and kill more pumas.  What else can one do?  When I stop killing I
shall be killed.  A million pumas and their skins are not worth the life
of my friend."

Lawless looked round the room, at the wooden cup, the gun, the
bloodstained clothes on the wall, and the skins.  He got up, came over,
and touched Pourcette on the shoulder.

"Little man," he said, "give it up, and come with me.  Come to Fort St.
John, sell the skins, give the money to the girl, and then let us travel
to the Barren Grounds together, and from there to the south country
again.  You will go mad up here.  You have killed enough--Gawdor and many
pumas.  If Jo could speak, he would say, Give it up.  I knew Jo.  He was
my good friend before he was yours--mine and M'Gann's here--and we
searched for him to travel with us.  He would have done so, I think, for
we had sport and trouble of one kind and another together.  And he would
have asked you to come also.  Well, do so, little man.  We haven't told
you our names.  I am Sir Duke Lawless, and this is Shon M'Gann."

Pourcette nodded: "I do not know how it come to me, but I was sure from
the first you are his friends.  He speak often of you and of two others
--where are they?"

Lawless replied, and, at the name of Pretty Pierre, Shon hid his forehead
in his hand, in a troubled way.  "And you will come with us," said
Lawless, "away from this loneliness?"

"It is not lonely," was the reply.  "To hear the thrum of the pigeon, the
whistle of the hawk, the chatter of the black squirrel, and the long cry
of the eagle, is not lonely.  Then, there is the river and the pines--all
music; and for what the eye sees, God has been good; and to kill pumas is
my joy.  .  .  .  So, I cannot go.  These hills are mine.  Few strangers
come, and none stop but me.  Still, to-morrow or any day, I will show you
the way to the valley where the gold is.  Perhaps riches is there,
perhaps not, you shall find."

Lawless saw that it was no use to press the matter.  The old man had but
one idea, and nothing could ever change it.  Solitude fixes our hearts
immovably on things--call it madness, what you will.  In busy life we
have no real or lasting dreams, no ideals.  We have to go to the primeval
hills and the wild plains for them.  When we leave the hills and the
plains, we lose them again.  Shon was, however, for the valley of gold.
He was a poor man, and it would be a joyful thing for him if one day he
could empty ample gold into his wife's lap.  Lawless was not greedy, but
he and good gold were not at variance.

"See," said Shon, "the valley's the thing.  We can hunt as we go, and if
there's gold for the scrapin', why, there y'are--fill up and come again.
If not, divil the harm done.  So here's thumbs up to go, say I.  But I
wish, Lawless, I wish that I'd niver known how Jo wint off, an' I wish
we were all t'gither agin, as down in the Pipi Valley."

"There's nothing stands in this world, Shon, but the faith of comrades
and the truth of good women.  The rest hangs by a hair.  I'll go to the
valley with you.  It's many a day since I washed my luck in a gold-pan."

"I will take you there," said Pourcette, suddenly rising, and, with
shy abrupt motions grasping their hands and immediately letting them
go again.  "I will take you to-morrow."  Then he spread skins upon the
floor, put wood upon the fire, and the three were soon asleep.

The next morning, just as the sun came laboriously over the white peak of
a mountain, and looked down into the great gulch beneath the hut, the
three started.  For many hours they crept along the side of the mountain,
then came slowly down upon pine-crested hills, and over to where a small
plain stretched out.  It was Pourcette's little farm.  Its position was
such that it caught the sun always, and was protected from the north and
east winds.  Tall shafts of Indian corn with their yellow tassels were
still standing, and the stubble of the field where the sickle had been
showed in the distance like a carpet of gold.  It seemed strange to
Lawless that this old man beside him should be thus peaceful in his
habits, the most primitive and arcadian of farmers, and yet one whose
trade was blood--whose one purpose in life was destruction and vengeance.

They pushed on.  Towards the end of the day they came upon a little herd
of caribou, and had excellent sport.  Lawless noticed that Pourcette
seemed scarcely to take any aim at all, so swift and decisive was his
handling of the gun.  They skinned the deer and cached them, and took up
the journey again.  For four days they travelled and hunted alternately.
Pourcette had shot two mountain lions, but they had seen no pumas.

On the morning of the fifth day they came upon the valley where the gold
was.  There was no doubt about it.  A beautiful little stream ran through
it, and its bed was sprinkled with gold--a goodly sight to a poor man
like Shon, interesting enough to Lawless.  For days, while Lawless and
Pourcette hunted, Shon laboured like a galley-slave, making the little
specks into piles, and now and again crowning a pile with a nugget.  The
fever of the hunter had passed from him, and another fever was on him.
The others urged him to come away.  The winter would soon be hard on
them; he must go, and he and Lawless would return in the spring.

Prevailing on him at last, they started back to Clear Mountain.  The
first day Shon was abstracted.  He carried the gold he had gathered in a
bag wound about his body.  It was heavy, and he could not travel fast.
One morning, Pourcette, who had been off in the hills, came to say that
he had sighted a little herd of wapiti.  Shon had fallen and sprained his
arm the evening before (gold is heavy to carry), and he did not go with
the others.  He stayed and dreamed of his good fortune, and of his home.
In the late afternoon he lay down in the sun beside the camp-fire and
fell asleep from much thinking.  Lawless and Pourcette had little
success.  The herd had gone before they arrived.  They beat the hills,
and turned back to camp at last, without fret, like good sportsmen.  At a
point they separated, to come down upon the camp at different angles, in
the hope of still getting a shot.  The camp lay exposed upon a platform
of the mountain.

Lawless came out upon a ledge of rock opposite the camp, a gulch lying
between.  He looked across.  He was in the shadow, the other wall of the
gulch was in the sun.  The air was incomparably clear and fresh, with an
autumnal freshness.  Everything stood out distinct and sharply outlined,
nothing flat or blurred.  He saw the camp, and the fire, with the smoke
quivering up in a diffusing blue column, Shon lying beside it.  He leaned
upon his rifle musingly.  The shadows of the pines were blue and cold,
but the tops of them were burnished with the cordial sun, and a glacier-
field, somehow, took on a rose and violet light, reflected, maybe, from
the soft-complexioned sky.  He drew in a long breath of delight, and
widened his line of vision.

Suddenly, something he saw made him lurch backward.  At an angle in
almost equal distance from him and Shon, upon a small peninsula of rock,
a strange thing was happening.  Old Pourcette was kneeling, engaged with
his moccasin.  Behind him was the sun, against which he was abruptly
defined, looking larger than usual.  Clear space and air soft with colour
were about him.  Across this space, on a little sloping plateau near him,
there crept an animal.  It seemed to Lawless that he could see the lithe
stealthiness of its muscles and the ripple of its skin.  But that was
imagination, because he was too far away.  He cried out, and swung his
gun shoulderwards in desperation.  But, at the moment, Pourcette turned
sharply round, saw his danger, caught his gun, and fired as the puma
sprang.  There had been no chance for aim, and the beast was only
wounded.  It dropped upon the man.  He let the gun fall; it rolled and
fell over the cliff.  Then came a scene, wicked in its peril to
Pourcette, for whom no aid could come, though two men stood watching the
great fight--Shon M'Gann, awake now, and Lawless--with their guns silent
in their hands.  They dare not fire, for fear of injuring the man, and
they could not reach him in time to be of help.

There against the weird solitary sky the man and the puma fought.  When
the animal dropped on him, Pourcette caught it by the throat with both
hands, and held back its fangs; but its claws were furrowing the flesh of
his breast and legs.  His long arms were of immense strength, and though
the pain of his torn flesh was great he struggled grandly with the beast,
and bore it away, from his body.  As he did so he slightly changed the
position of one hand.  It came upon a welt-a scar.  When he felt that,
new courage and strength seemed given him.  He gave a low growl like an
animal, and then, letting go one hand, caught at the knife in his belt.
As he did so the puma sprang away from him, and crouched upon the rock,
making ready for another leap.  Lawless and Shon could see its tail
curving and beating.  But now, to their astonishment, the man was the
aggressor.  He was filled with a fury which knows nothing of fear.  The
welt his fingers had felt burned them.

He came slowly upon the puma.  Lawless could see the hard glitter of his
knife.  The puma's teeth sawed together, its claws picked at the rocks,
its body curved for a spring.  The man sprang first, and ran the knife
in; but not into a mortal corner.  Once more they locked.  The man's
fingers were again at the puma's throat, and they swayed together, the
claws of the beast making surface havoc.  But now as they stood up, to
the eyes of the fearful watchers inextricably mixed, the man lunged again
with his knife, and this time straight into the heart of the murderer.
The puma loosened, quivered, fell back dead.  The man rose to his feet
with a cry, and his hands stretched above his head, as it were in a kind
of ecstasy.  Shon forgot his gold and ran; Lawless hurried also.

When the two men got to the spot they found Pourcette binding up his
wounds.  He came to his feet, heedless of his hurts, and grasped their
hands.  "Come, come, my friends, and see," he cried.

He pulled forward the loose skin on the puma's breast and showed them the
scar of a knife-wound above the one his own knife had made.

"I've got the other murderer," he said; "Gordineer's knife went in here.
Sacre, but it is good!"

Pourcette's flesh needed little medicine; he did not feel his pain and
stiffness.  When they reached Clear Mountain, bringing with them the skin
which was to hang above the fireplace, Pourcette prepared to go to Fort
St. John, as he had said he would, to sell all the skins and give the
proceeds to the girl.

"When that's done," said Lawless, "you will have no reason for staying
here.  If you will come with us after, we will go to the Fort with you.
We three will then come back in the spring to the valley of gold for
sport and riches."

He spoke lightly, yet seriously too.  The old man shook his head.
"I have thought," he said.  "I cannot go to the south.  I am a hunter
now, nothing more.  I have been long alone; I do not wish for change.
I shall remain at Clear Mountain when these skins have gone to Fort St.
John, and if you come to me in the spring or at any time, my door will
open to you, and I will share all with you.  Gordineer was a good man.
You are good men.  I'll remember you, but I can't go with you--no.

"Some day you would leave me to go to the women who wait for you, and then
I should be alone again.  I will not change--vraiment!"

On the morning they left, he took Jo Gordineer's cup from the shelf, and
from a hidden place brought out a flask half filled with liquor.  He
poured out a little in the cup gravely, and handed it to Lawless, but
Lawless gave it back to him.

"You must drink from it," he said, "not me."

He held out the cup of his own flask.  When each of the three had a
share, the old man raised his long arm solemnly, and said in a tone so
gentle that the others hardly recognised his voice: "To a lost comrade!"
They drank in silence.

"A little gentleman!" said Lawless, under his breath.  When they were
ready to start, Lawless said to him at the last: "What will you do here,
comrade, as the days go on?"

"There are pumas in the mountains," he replied.  They parted from him
upon the ledge where the great fight had occurred, and travelled into the
east.  Turning many times, they saw him still standing there.  At a point
where they must lose sight of him, they looked for the last time.  He was
alone with his solitary hills, leaning on his rifle.  They fired two
shots into the air.  They saw him raise his rifle, and two faint reports
came in reply.  He became again immovable: as much a part of those hills
as the shining glacier; never to leave them.

In silence the two rounded the cliff, and saw him no more.



THE TRAIL OF THE SUN DOGS

Swell, you see," said Jacques Parfaite, as he gave Whiskey Wine, the
leading dog, a cut with the whip and twisted his patois to the uses of
narrative, "he has been alone there at the old Fort for a long time.  I
remember when I first see him.  It was in the summer.  The world smell
sweet if you looked this way or that.  If you drew in your breath quick
from the top of a hill you felt a great man.  Ridley, the chief trader,
and myself have come to the Fort on our way to the Mackenzie River.  In
the yard of the Fort the grass have grown tall, and sprung in the cracks
under the doors and windows; the Fort have not been use for a long time.
Once there was plenty of buffalo near, and the caribou sometimes; but
they were all gone--only a few.  The Indians never went that way, only
when the seasons were the best.  The Company have close the Post; it did
not pay.  Still, it was pleasant after a long tramp to come to even an
empty fort.  We know dam' well there is food buried in the yard or under
the floor, and it would be droll to open the place for a day--Lost Man's
Tavern, we called it.  Well--"

"Well, what?" said Sir Duke Lawless, who had travelled up to the Barren
Grounds for the sake of adventure and game; and, with his old friend,
Shon M'Gann, had trusted himself to the excellent care of Jacques
Parfaite, the half-breed.

Jacques cocked his head on one side and shook it wisely and mysteriously.
"Tres bien, we trailed through the long grass, pried open the shutters
and door, and went in.  It is cool in the north of an evening, as you
know.  We build a fire, and soon there is very fine times.  Ridley pried
up the floor, and we found good things.  Holy!  but it was a feast.  We
had a little rum also.  As we talk and a great laugh swim round, there
come a noise behind us like shuffling feet.  We got to our legs quick.
Mon Dieu, a strange sight!  A man stand looking at us with something in
his face that make my fingers cold all at once--a look--well you would
think it was carved in stone--it never change.  Once I was at Fort Garry;
the Church of St. Mary is there.  They have a picture in it of the great
scoundrel Judas as he went to hang himself.  Judas was a fool--what was
thirty dollars!--you give me hunder' to take you to the Barren Grounds.
Pah!"

The half-breed chuckled, shook his head sagely, swore half-way through
his vocabulary at Whiskey Wine, gratefully received a pipe of tobacco
from Shon M'Gann, and continued: "He come in on us slow and still, and
push out long thin hands, the fingers bent like claws, towards the pot.
He was starving.  Yes, it was so; but I nearly laugh.  It was spring--
a man is a fool to starve in the spring.  But he was differen'.  There
was a cause.  The factor give him soup from the pot and a little rum.  He
was mad for meat, but that would have kill him--yes.  He did not look at
you like a man.

"When you are starving, you are an animal.  But there was something more
with this.--He made the flesh creep, he was so thin, and strange, and
sulky--eh, is that a word when the face looks dark and never smiles?  So.
He would not talk.  When we ask him where he come from, he points to the
north; when we ask him where he is going, he shake his head as he not
know.  A man is mad not to know where he travel to up here; something
comes quick to him unless, and it is not good to die too soon.  The
trader said, 'Come with us.'  He shake his head, No.  'P'r'aps you want
to stay here,' said Ridley loud, showing his teeth all in a minute.  He
nod.  Then the trader laugh thick in his throat and give him more soup.
After, he try to make the man talk; but he was stubborn like that dirty
Whiskey Wine--ah, sacre bleu!"

Whiskey Wine had his usual portion of whip and anathema before Jacques
again took up the thread.  "It was no use.  He would not talk.  When the
trader get angry once more, he turned to me, and the look in his face
make me sorry.  I swore--Ridley did not mind that, I was thick friends
with him.  I say, 'Keep still.  It is no good.  He has had bad times.
He has been lost, and seen mad things.  He will never be again like when
God make him.'  Very well, I spoke true.  He was like a sun dog."

"What's that ye say, Parfaite?" said Shon--"a sun dog?"

Sir Duke Lawless, puzzled, listened eagerly for the reply.

The half-breed in delight ran before them, cracking his whip and jingling
the bells at his knees.  "Ah, that's it!  It is a name we have for some.
You do not know?  It is easy.  In the high-up country"--pointing north"--
you see sometimes many suns.  But it is not many after all; it is only
one; and the rest are the same as your face in looking-glasses--one, two,
three, plenty.  You see?"

"Yes," said Sir Duke, "reflections of the real sun."  Parfaite tapped him
on the arm.  "So: you have the thing.  Well, this man is not himself--he
have left himself where he seen his bad times.  It makes your flesh creep
sometimes when you see the sun dogs in the sky--this man did the same.
You shall see him tonight."

Sir Duke looked at the little half-breed, and wondered that the product
of so crude a civilisation should be so little crude in his imagination.
"What happened?" he asked.

"Nothing happened.  But the man could not sleep.  He sit before the fire,
his eyes moving here and there, and sometimes he shiver.  Well, I watch
him.  In the morning we leave him there, and he has been there ever
since--the only man at the Fort.  The Indians do not go; they fear him;
but there is no harm in him.  He is old now.  In an hour we'll be there."

The sun was hanging, with one shoulder up like a great red peering dwarf,
on the far side of a long hillock of stunted pines, when the three
arrived at the Fort.  The yard was still as Parfaite had described it--
full of rank grass, through which one path trailed to the open door.  On
the stockade walls grass grew, as though where men will not live like men
Nature labours to smother.  The shutters of the window were not open;
light only entered through narrow openings in them, made for the needs of
possible attacks by Indians in the far past.  One would have sworn that
anyone dwelling there was more like the dead than the living.  Yet it
had, too, something of the peace of the lonely graveyard.  There was no
one in the Fort; but there were signs of life--skins piled here and
there, a few utensils, a bench, a hammock for food swung from the
rafters, a low fire burning in the chimney, and a rude spear stretched on
the wall.

"Sure, the place gives you shivers!" said Shon.  "Open go these windows.
Put wood on the fire, Parfaite; cook the meat that we've brought, and no
other, me boy; and whin we're filled wid a meal and the love o' God,
bring in your Lost Man, or Sun Dog, or whativer's he by name or nature."

While Parfaite and Shon busied themselves, Lawless wandered out with his
gun, and, drawn on by the clear joyous air of the evening, walked along a
path made by the same feet that had travelled the yard of the Fort.  He
followed it almost unconsciously at first, thinking of the strange
histories that the far north hoards in its fastnesses, wondering what
singular fate had driven the host of this secluded tavern--farthest from
the pleasant south country, nearest to the Pole--to stand, as it were,
a sentinel at the raw outposts of the world.  He looked down at the trail
where he was walking with a kind of awe, which even his cheerful common
sense could not dismiss.

He came to the top of a ridge on which were a handful of meagre trees.
Leaning on his gun, he looked straight away into the farthest distance.
On the left was a blurred edge of pines, with tops like ungainly tendrils
feeling for the sky.  On the right was a long bare stretch of hills
veiled in the thin smoke of the evening, and between, straight before
him, was a wide lane of unknown country, billowing away to where it froze
into the vast archipelago that closes with the summit of the world.  He
experienced now that weird charm which has drawn so many into Arctic
wilds and gathered the eyes of millions longingly.  Wife, child, London,
civilisation, were forgotten for the moment.  He was under a spell which,
once felt, lingers in your veins always.

At length his look drew away from the glimmering distance, and he
suddenly became conscious of human presence.  Here, almost at his feet,
was a man, also looking out along that slumbering waste.  He was dressed
in skins, his arms were folded across his breast, his chin bent low, and
he gazed up and out from deep eyes shadowed by strong brows.  Lawless saw
the shoulders of the watcher heave and shake once or twice, and then a
voice with a deep aching trouble in it spoke; but at first he could catch
no words.  Presently, however, he heard distinctly, for the man raised
his hands high above his head, and the words fell painfully: "Am I my
brother's keeper?"

Then a low harsh laugh came from him, and he was silent again.  Lawless
did not move.  At last the man turned round, and, seeing him standing
motionless, his gun in his hands, he gave a hoarse cry.  Then he stood
still.  "If you have come to kill, do not wait," he said; "I am ready."

At the sound of Lawless's reassuring voice he recovered, and began,
in stumbling words, to excuse himself.  His face was as Jacques Parfaite
had described it: trouble of some terrible kind was furrowed in it, and,
though his body was stalwart, he looked as if he had lived a century.
His eyes dwelt on Sir Duke Lawless for a moment, and then, coming nearer,
he said, "You are an Englishman?"

Lawless held out his hand in greeting, yet he was not sorry when the
other replied: "The hand of no man in greeting.  Are you alone?"

When he had been told, he turned towards the Fort, and silently they made
their way to it.  At the door he turned and said to Lawless, "My name--to
you--is Detmold."

The greeting between Jacques and his sombre host was notable for
its extreme brevity; with Shon McGann for its hesitation--Shon's
impressionable Irish nature was awed by the look of the man, though he
had seen some strange things in the north.  Darkness was on them by this
time, and the host lighted bowls of fat with wicks of deer's tendons, and
by the light of these and the fire they ate their supper.  Parfaite
beguiled the evening with tales of the north, always interesting to
Lawless; to which Shon added many a shrewd word of humour--for he had
recovered quickly from his first timidity in the presence of the
stranger.

As time went on Jacques saw that their host's eyes were frequently fixed
on Sir Duke in a half-eager, musing way, and he got Shon away to bed and
left the two together.

"You are a singular man.  Why do you live here?" said Lawless.  Then he
went straight to the heart of the thing.  "What trouble have you had, of
what crime are you guilty?"

The man rose to his feet, shaking, and walked to and fro in the room for
a time, more than once trying to speak, but failing.  He beckoned to
Lawless, and opened the door.  Lawless took his hat and followed him
along the trail they had travelled before supper until they came to the
ridge where they had met.  The man faced the north, the moon glistening
coldly on his grey hair.  He spoke with incredible weight and slowness:

"I tell you--for you are one who understands men, and you come from a
life that I once knew well.  I know of your people.  I was of good
family--"

"I know the name," said Sir Duke quietly, at the same time fumbling in
his memory for flying bits of gossip and history which he could not
instantly find.

"There were two brothers of us.  I was the younger.  A ship was going to
the Arctic Sea."  He pointed into the north.  "We were both young and
ambitious.  He was in the army, I the navy.  We went with the expedition.
At first it was all beautiful and grand, and it seemed noble to search
for those others who had gone into that land and never come back.  But
our ship got locked in the ice, and then came great trouble.  A year went
by and we did not get free; then another year began.  .  .  .  Four of us
set out for the south.  Two died.  My brother and I were left--"

Lawless exclaimed.  He now remembered how general sympathy went out to a
well-known county family when it was announced that two of its members
were lost in the Arctic regions.

Detmold continued: "I was the stronger.  He grew weaker and weaker.  It
was awful to live those days: the endless snow and cold, the long nights
when you could only hear the whirring of meteors, the bright sun which
did not warm you, nor even when many suns, the reflections of itself,
followed it--the mocking sun dogs, no more the sun than I am what my
mother brought into the world.  .  .  .  We walked like dumb men, for the
dreadful cold fills the heart with bitterness.  I think I grew to hate
him because he could not travel faster, that days were lost, and death
crept on so pitilessly.  Sometimes I had a mad wish to kill him.  May you
never know suffering that begets such things!  I laughed as I sat beside
him, and saw him sink to sleep and die.  .  .  .  I think I could have
saved him.  When he was gone I--what do men do sometimes when starvation
is on them, and they have a hunger of hell to live?  I did that shameless
thing--and he was my brother!  .  .  .  I lived, and was saved."

Lawless shrank away from the man, but words of horror got no farther than
his throat.  And he was glad afterwards that it was so; for when he
looked again at this woful relic of humanity before him he felt a strange
pity.

"God's hand is on me to punish," said the man.  "It will never be lifted.
Death were easy: I bear the infamy of living."

Lawless reached out and caught him gently by the shoulders.  "Poor
fellow!  poor Detmold!" he said.  For an instant the sorrowful face
lighted, the square chin trembled, and the hands thrust out towards
Lawless, but suddenly dropped.

"Go," he said humbly, "and leave me here.  We must not meet again.  .  .
I have had one moment of respite.  .  .  .  Go."

Without a word, Lawless turned and made his way to the Fort.  In the
morning the three comrades started on their journey again; but no one
sped them on their way or watched them as they went.



THE PILOT OF BELLE AMOUR

He lived in a hut on a jutting crag of the Cliff of the King.  You could
get to it by a hard climb up a precipitous pathway, or by a ladder of
ropes which swung from his cottage door down the cliff-side to the sands.
The bay that washed the sands was called Belle Amour.  The cliff was
huge, sombre; it had a terrible granite moroseness.  If you travelled
back from its edge until you stood within the very heart of Labrador, you
would add step upon step of barrenness and austerity.

Only at seasons did the bay share the gloom of the cliff.  When out of
its shadow it was, in summer, very bright and playful, sometimes
boisterous, often idle, coquetting with the sands.  There was a great
difference between the cliff and the bay: the cliff was only as it
appeared, but the bay was a shameless hypocrite.  For under one shoulder
it hid a range of reefs, and, at a spot where the shadows of the cliff
never reached it, and the sun played with a grim kind of joy, a long
needle of rock ran up at an angle under the water, waiting to pierce
irresistibly the adventurous ship that, in some mad moment, should creep
to its shores.

The man was more like the cliff than the bay: stern, powerful, brooding.
His only companions were the Indians, who in summer-time came and went,
getting stores of him, which he in turn got from a post of the Hudson's
Bay Company, seventy miles up the coast.  At one time the Company,
impressed by the number of skins brought to them by the pilot, and the
stores he bought of them, had thought of establishing a post at Belle
Amour; but they saw that his dealings with them were fair and that he had
small gain, and they decided to use him as an unofficial agent, and reap
what profit was to be had as things stood.  Kenyon, the Company's agent,
who had the Post, was keen to know why Gaspard the pilot lived at Belle
Amour.  No white man sojourned near him, and he saw no one save now and
then a priest who travelled silently among the Indians, or some
fisherman, hunter, or woodsman, who, for pleasure or from pure adventure,
ran into the bay and tasted the hospitality tucked away on a ledge of the
Cliff of the King.

To Kenyon, Gaspard was unresponsive, however adroit the catechism.
Father Corraine also, who sometimes stepped across the dark threshold of
Gaspard's hut, would have, for the man's soul's sake, dug out the heart
of his secret; but Gaspard, open with food, fire, blanket, and tireless
attendance, closed like the doors of a dungeon when the priest would have
read him.  At the name of good Ste. Anne he would make the sacred
gesture, and would take a blessing when the priest passed from his hut
to go again into the wilds; but when pressed to disclose his mind and
history, he would always say: "M'sieu', I have nothing to confess."
After a number of years the priest ceased to ask him, and he remained
with the secret of his life, inscrutable and silent.

Being vigilant, one would have seen, however, that he lived in some land
of memory or anticipation, beyond his life of daily toil and usual
dealing.  The hut seemed to have been built at a point where east and
west and south the great gulf could be seen and watched.  It seemed
almost ludicrous that a man should call himself a pilot on a coast and at
a bay where a pilot was scarce needed once a year.  But he was known as
Gaspard the pilot, and on those rare occasions when a vessel did anchor
in the bay, he performed his duties with such a certainty as to leave
unguessed how many deathtraps crouched near that shore.  At such times,
however, Gaspard seemed to look twenty years younger.  A light would come
into his face, a stalwart kind of pride sit on him, though beneath there
lurked a strange, sardonic look in his deep eyes--such a grim furtiveness
as though he should say: "If I but twist my finger we are all for the
fishes."  But he kept his secret and waited.  He never seemed to tire of
looking down the gulf, as though expecting some ship.  If one appeared
and passed on, he merely nodded his head, hung up his glass, returned to
his work, or, sitting by the door, talked to himself in low, strange
tones.  If one came near, making as if it would enter the bay, a hungry
joy possessed him.  If a storm was on, the joy was the greater.  No pilot
ever ventured to a ship on such rough seas as Gaspard ventured for small
profit or glory.

Behind it all lay his secret.  There came one day a man who discovered
it.

It was Pierre, the half-breed adventurer.  There was no point in all the
wild northland which Pierre had not touched.  He loved it as he loved the
game of life.  He never said so of it, but he never said so of the game
of life, and he played it with a deep subterranean joy.  He had had his
way with the musk-ox in the Arctic Circle; with the white bear at the
foot of Alaskan Hills; with the seal in Baffin's Bay; with the puma on
the slope of the Pacific; and now at last he had come upon the trail of
Labrador.  Its sternness, its moodiness pleased him.  He smiled at it the
comprehending smile of the man who has fingered the nerves and the heart
of men and things.  As a traveller, wandering through a prison, looks
upon its grim cells and dungeons with the eye of unembarrassed freedom,
finding no direful significance in the clank of its iron, so Pierre
travelled down with a handful of Indians through the hard fastnesses of
that country, and, at last, alone, came upon the bay of Belle Amour.

There was in him some antique touch of refinement and temperament which,
in all his evil days and deeds and moments of shy nobility, could find
its way into the souls of men with whom the world had had an awkward
hour.  He was a man of little speech, but he had that rare persuasive
penetration which unlocked the doors of trouble, despair, and tragedy.
Men who would never have confessed to a priest confessed to him.  In his
every fibre was the granite of the Indian nature, which looked upon
punishment with stoic satisfaction.

In the heart of Labrador he had heard of Gaspard, and had travelled to
that point in the compass where he could find him.  One day when the sun
was fighting hard to make a pathway of light in front of Gaspard's hut,
Pierre rounded a corner of the cliff and fronted Gaspard as he sat there,
his eyes idling gloomily with the sea.  They said little to each other--
in new lands hospitality has not need of speech.  When Gaspard and Pierre
looked each other in the eyes they knew that one word between them was as
a hundred with other men.  The heart knows its confessor, and the
confessor knows the shadowed eye that broods upon some ghostly secret;
and when these are face to face there comes a merciless concision of
understanding.

"From where away?" said Gaspard, as he handed some tobacco to Pierre.

"From Hudson's Bay, down the Red Wolf Plains, along the hills, across the
coast country, here."

"Why?"  Gaspard eyed Pierre's small kit with curiosity; then flung up a
piercing, furtive look.  Pierre shrugged his shoulders.

"Adventure, adventure," he answered.  "The land"--he pointed north, west,
and east--"is all mine.  I am the citizen of every village and every camp
of the great north."

The old man turned his head towards a spot up the shore of Belle Amour,
before he turned to Pierre again, with a strange look, and said: "Where
do you go?"

Pierre followed his gaze to that point in the shore, felt the
undercurrent of vague meaning in his voice, guessed what was his cue, and
said: "Somewhere, sometime; but now only Belle Amour.  I have had a long
travel.  I have found an open door.  I will stay--if you please--hein?
If you please?"

Gaspard brooded.  "It is lonely," he replied.  "This day it is all
bright; the sun shines and the little gay waves crinkle to the shore.
But, mon Dieu!  sometimes it is all black and ugly with storm.  The waves
come grinding, booming in along the gridiron rocks"--he smiled a grim
smile--"break through the teeth of the reefs, and split with a roar of
hell upon the cliff.  And all the time, and all the time,"--his voice got
low with a kind of devilish joy,--"there is a finger--Jesu! you should
see that finger of the devil stretch up from the bowels of the earth,
waiting, waiting for something to come out of the storm.  And then--and
then you can hear a wild laugh come out of the land, come up from the
sea, come down from the sky--all waiting, waiting for something!  No, no,
you would not stay here."

Pierre looked again to that point in the shore towards which Gaspard's
eyes had been cast.  The sun was shining hard just then, and the stern,
sharp rocks, tumbling awkwardly back into the waste behind, had an
insolent harshness.  Day perched garishly there.  Yet now and then the
staring light was broken by sudden and deep shadows--great fissures in
the rocks and lanes between.  These gave Pierre a suggestion, though why,
he could not say.  He knew that when men live lives of patient, gloomy
vigilance, they generally have something to watch and guard.  Why should
Gaspard remain here year after year?  His occupation was nominally a
pilot in a bay rarely touched by vessels, and then only for shelter.
A pilot need not take his daily life with such brooding seriousness.
In body he was like flexible metal, all cord and muscle.  He gave the
impression of bigness, though he was small in stature.  Yet, as Pierre
studied him, he saw something that made him guess the man had had about
him one day a woman, perhaps a child; no man could carry that look
unless.  If a woman has looked at you from day to day, something of her,
some reflection of her face, passes to yours and stays there; and if a
child has held your hand long, or hung about your knees, it gives you a
kind of gentle wariness as you step about your home.

Pierre knew that a man will cherish with a deep, eternal purpose a memory
of a woman or a child, when, no matter how compelling his cue to remember
where a man is concerned, he will yield it up in the end to time.
Certain speculations arranged themselves definitely in Pierre's mind:
there was a woman, maybe a child once; there was some sorrowful mystery
about them; there was a point in the shore that had held the old man's
eyes strangely; there was the bay with that fantastic "finger of the
devil" stretching up from the bowels of the world.  Behind the symbol lay
the Thing what was it?

Long time he looked out upon the gulf, then his eyes drew into the bay
and stayed there, seeing mechanically, as a hundred fancies went through
his mind.  There were reefs of which the old man had spoken.  He could
guess from the colour and movement of the water where they were.  The
finger of the devil--was it not real?  A finger of rock, waiting as the
old man said--for what?

Gaspard touched his shoulder.  He rose and went with him into the gloomy
cabin.  They ate and drank in silence.  When the meal was finished they
sat smoking till night fell.  Then the pilot lit a fire, and drew his
rough chair to the door.  Though it was only late summer, it was cold in
the shade of the cliff.  Long time they sat.  Now and again Pierre
intercepted the quick, elusive glance of his silent host.  Once the pilot
took the pipe from his mouth, and leaned his hands on his knees as if
about to speak.  But he did not.

Pierre saw that the time was ripe for speech.  So he said, as though he
knew something: "It is a long time since it happened?"

Gaspard, brooding, answered: "Yes, a long time--too long."  Then,
as if suddenly awakened to the strangeness of the question, he added,
in a startled way: " What do you know?  Tell me quick what you know."

"I know nothing except what comes to me here, pilot,"--Pierre touched his
forehead," but there is a thing--I am not sure what.  There was a woman--
perhaps a child; there is something on the shore; there is a hidden point
of rock in the bay; and you are waiting for a ship--for the ship, and it
does not come--isn't that so?"

Gaspard got to his feet, and peered into Pierre's immobile face.  Their
eyes met.

"Mon Dieu!" said the pilot, his hand catching the smoke away from
between them, "you are a droll man; you have a wonderful mind.  You are
cold like ice, and still there is in you a look of fire."

"Sit down," answered Pierre quietly, "and tell me all.  Perhaps I could
think it out little by little; but it might take too long--and what is
the good?"

Slowly Gaspard obeyed.  Both hands rested on his knees, and he stared
abstractedly into the fire.  Pierre thrust forward the tobacco-bag.  His
hand lifted, took the tobacco, and then his eyes came keenly to Pierre's.
He was about to speak. . . .  "Fill your pipe first," said the half-breed
coolly.  The old man did so abstractedly.  When the pipe was lighted,
Pierre said: "Now!"

"I have never told the story, never--not even to Pere Corraine.  But I
know, I have it here"--he put his hand to his forehead, as did Pierre--
"that you will be silent."  Pierre nodded.

"She was fine to see.  Her eyes were black as beads; and when she laugh
it was all music.  I was so happy!  We lived on the island of the Aux
Coudres, far up there at Quebec.  It was a wild place.  There were
smugglers and others there--maybe pirates.  But she was like a saint of
God among all.  I was lucky man.  I was pilot, and took ships out to sea,
and brought them in safe up the gulf.  It is not all easy, for there are
mad places.  Once or twice when a wild storm was on I could not land at
Cap Martin, and was carried out to sea and over to France.  .  .  .
Well, that was not so bad; there was plenty to eat and drink, nothing to
do.  But when I marry it was differen'.  I was afraid of being carried
away and leave my wife--the belle Mamette--alone long time.  You see,
I was young, and she was ver' beautiful."

He paused and caught his hand over his mouth as though to stop a sound:
the lines of his face deepened.  Presently he puffed his pipe so hard
that the smoke and the sparks hid him in a cloud through which he spoke.
"When the child was born--Holy Mother! have you ever felt the hand of
your own child in yours, and looked at the mother, as she lies there all
pale and shining between the quilts?"

He paused.  Pierre's eyes dropped to the floor.  Gaspard continued:
"Well, it is a great thing, and the babe was born quick one day when we
were all alone.  A thing like that gives you wonder.  Then I could not
bear to go away with the ships, and at last I said: 'One month, and then
the ice fills the gulf, and there will be no more ships for the winter.
That will be the last for me.  I will be pilot no more-no.'  She was ver'
happy, and a laugh ran over her little white teeth.  Mon Dieu, I stop
that laugh pretty quick--in fine way!"

He seemed for an instant to forget his great trouble, and his face went
to warm sunshine like a boy's; but it was as sun playing on a scarred
fortress.  Presently the light faded out of his face and left it like
iron smouldering from the bellows.

"Well," he said, "you see there was a ship to go almost the last of the
season, and I said to my wife, 'Mamette, it is the last time I shall be
pilot.  You must come with me and bring the child, and they will put us
off at Father Point, and then we will come back slow to the village on
the good Ste. Anne and live there ver' quiet.'  When I say that to her
she laugh back at me and say, 'Beau!  beau!' and she laugh in the child's
eyes, and speak--nom de Dieu! she speak so gentle and light--and say to
the child: 'Would you like go with your father a pretty journey down the
gulf?' And the little child laugh back at her, and shake its soft brown
hair over its head.  They were both so glad to go.  I went to the captain
of the ship.  I say to him, 'I will take my wife and my little child, and
when we come to Father Point we will go ashore.'  Bien, the captain laugh
big, and it was all right.  That was long time ago--long time."

He paused again, threw his head back with a despairing toss, his chin
dropped on his breast, his hands clasped between his knees, and his pipe,
laid beside him on the bench, was forgotten.

Pierre quietly put some wood upon the fire, opened his kit, drew out
from it a little flask of rum and laid it upon the bench beside the pipe.
A long time passed.  At last Gaspard roused himself with a long sigh,
turned and picked up the pipe, but, seeing the flask of rum, lifted it,
and took one long swallow before he began to fill and light his pipe.
There came into his voice something of iron hardness as he continued his
story.

"Alors, we went into the boat.  As we travelled down the gulf a great
storm came out of the north.  We thought it would pass, but it stayed on.
When we got to the last place where the pilot could land, the waves were
running like hills to the shore, and no boat could live between the ship
and the point.  For myself, it was nothing--I am a strong man and a great
swimmer.  But when a man has a wife and a child, it is differen'.  So the
ship went on out into the ocean with us.  Well, we laugh a little, and
think what a great brain I had when I say to my wife: 'Come and bring the
child for the last voyage of Gaspard the pilot.'  You see, there we were
on board the ship, everything ver' good, plenty to eat, much to drink, to
smoke, all the time.  The sailors, they were ver' funny, and to see them
take my child, my little Babette, and play with her as she roll on the
deck--merci, it was gran'!  So I say to my wife:

"'This will be bon voyage for all.'  But a woman, she has not the mind
like a man.  When a man laugh in the sun and think nothing of evil, a
woman laugh too, but there come a little quick sob to her lips.  You ask
her why, and she cannot tell.  She know that something will happen.  A
man has great idee, a woman great sight.  So my wife, she turn her face
away all sad from me then, and she was right--she was right!

"One day in the ocean we pass a ship--only two days out.  The ship signal
us.  I say to my wife: 'Ha, ha!  now we can go back, maybe, to the good
Ste. Anne.'  Well, the ships come close together, and the captain of the
other ship he have something importan' with ours.  He ask if there will
be chance of pilot into the gulf, because it is the first time that he
visit Quebec.  The captain swing round and call to me.  I go up.  I bring
my wife and my little Babette; and that was how we sail back to the great
gulf.

"When my wife step on board that ship I see her face get pale, and
something strange in her eyes.  I ask her why; she do not know, but she
hug Babette close to her breast with a kind of fear.  A long, low, black
ship, it could run through every sea.  Soon the captain come to me and
say: 'You know the coast, the north coast of the gulf, from Labrador to
Quebec?' I tell him yes.  'Well,' he say, 'do you know of a bay where few
ships enter safe?'  I think a moment and I tell him of Belle Amour.  Then
he say, ver' quick: 'That is the place; we will go to the bay of Belle
Amour.' He was ver' kind to my face; he give my wife and child good
berth, plenty to eat and drink, and once more I laugh; but my wife--there
was in her face something I not understan'.  It is not easy to understan'
a woman.  We got to the bay.  I had pride: I was young.  I was the best
pilot in the St. Lawrence, and I took in the ship between the reefs of
the bay, where they run like a gridiron, and I laugh when I swing the
ship all ver' quick to the right, after we pass the reefs, and make a
curve round--something.  The captain pull me up and ask why.  But I never
tell him that.  I not know why I never tell him.  But the good God put
the thought into my head, and I keep it to this hour, and it never leave
me, never--never!"

He slowly rubbed his hands up and down his knees, took another sip of
rum, and went on:

"I brought the ship close up to the shore, and we go to anchor.  All that
night I see the light of a fire on the shore.  So I slide down and swim
to the shore.  Under a little arch of rocks something was going on.
I could not tell, but I know from the sound that they are to bury
something.  Then, all at once, it come to me--this is a pirate ship!
I come closer and closer to the light, and then I see a dreadful thing.
There was the captain and the mate, and another.  They turn quick upon
two other men--two sailors--and kill them.  Then they take the bodies
and wound them round some casks in a great hole, and cover it all up.
I understan'.  It is the old legend that a dead body will keep gold all
to itself, so that no one shall find it.  Mon Dieu!"--his voice dropped
low and shook in his throat--"I give one little cry at the sight, and
then they see me.  There were three.  They were armed; they sprang upon
me and tied me.  Then they fling me beside the fire, and they cover up
the hole with the gold and the bodies.

"When that was done they take me back to the ship, then with pistols at
my head they make me pilot the ship out into the bay again.  As we went
they make a chart of the place.  We travel along the coast for one day;
and then a great storm of snow come, and the captain say to me: 'Steer
us into harbour.'  When we are at anchor, they take me and my wife, and
little child and put us ashore alone, with a storm and the bare rocks and
the dreadful night, and leave us there, that we shall never tell the
secret of the gold.  That night my wife and my child die in the snow."

Here his voice became strained and slow.  "After a long time I work my
way to an Injin camp.  For months I was a child in strength, all my flesh
gone.  When the spring come I went and dug a deeper grave for my wife,
and p'tite Babette, and leave them there, where they had died.  But I
come to the bay of Belle Amour, because I knew some day the man with the
devil's heart would come back for his gold, and then would arrive my
time--the hour of God!"

He paused.  "The hour of God," he repeated slowly.  "I have waited
twenty years, but he has not come; yet I know that he will come.  I feel
it here"--he touched his forehead; "I know it here"--he tapped his heart.
"Once where my heart was, there is only one thing, and it is hate, and I
know--I know--that he will come.  And when he comes--"  He raised his arm
high above his head, laughed wildly, paused, let the hand drop, and then
fell to staring into the fire.

Pierre again placed the flask of rum between his fingers.  But Gaspard
put it down, caught his arms together across his breast, and never turned
his face from the fire.  Midnight came, and still they sat there silent.
No man had a greater gift in waiting than Pierre.  Many a time his life
had been a swivel, upon which the comedies and tragedies of others had
turned.  He neither loved nor feared men: sometimes he pitied them.  He
pitied Gaspard.  He knew what it is to have the heartstrings stretched
out, one by one, by the hand of a Gorgon, while the feet are chained to
the rocking world.

Not till the darkest hour of the morning did the two leave their silent
watch and go to bed.  The sun had crept stealthily to the door of the but
before they rose again.  Pierre laid his hand upon Gaspard's shoulder as
they travelled out into the morning, and said: "My friend, I understand.
Your secret is safe with me; you shall take me to the place where the
gold is buried, but it shall wait there until the time is ripe.  What is
gold to me?  Nothing.  To find gold--that is the trick of any fool.  To
win it or to earn it is the only game.  Let the bodies rot about the
gold.  You and I will wait.  I have many friends in the northland, but
there is no face in any tent door looking for me.  You are alone: well,
I will stay with you.  Who can tell--perhaps it is near at hand--the hour
of God!"

The huge hard hand of Gaspard swallowed the small hand of Pierre, and, in
a voice scarcely above a whisper, he answered: "You shall be my comrade.
I have told you all, as I have never told it to my God.  I do not fear
you about the gold--it is all cursed.  You are not like other men; I will
trust you.  Some time you also have had the throat of a man in your
fingers, and watched the life spring out of his eyes, and leave them all
empty.  When men feel like that, what is gold--what is anything!  There
is food in the bay and on the hills.

"We will live together, you and I.  Come and I will show you the place of
hell."

Together they journeyed down the crag and along the beach to the place
where the gold, the grim god of this world, was fortressed and bastioned
by its victims.

The days went on; the weeks and months ambled by.  Still the two
lived together.  Little speech passed between them, save that speech
of comrades, who use more the sign than the tongue.  It seemed to Pierre
after a time that Gaspard's wrongs were almost his own.  Yet with this
difference: he must stand by and let the avenger be the executioner;
he must be the spectator merely.

Sometimes he went inland and brought back moose, caribou, and the skins
of other animals, thus assisting Gaspard in his dealings with the great
Company.  But again there were days when he did nothing but lie on the
skins at the hut's door, or saunter in the shadows and the sunlight.  Not
since he had come to Gaspard had a ship passed the bay or sought to
anchor in it.

But there came a day.  It was the early summer.  The snow had shrunk
from the ardent sun, and had swilled away to the gulf, leaving the tender
grass showing.  The moss on the rocks had changed from brown to green,
and the vagrant birds had fluttered back from the south.  The winter's
furs had been carried away in the early spring to the Company's post,
by a detachment of coureurs de bois.  There was little left to do.  This
morning they sat in the sun looking out upon the gulf.  Presently Gaspard
rose and went into the hut.  Pierre's eyes still lazily scanned the
water.  As he looked he saw a vessel rounding a point in the distance.
Suppose this was the ship of the pirate and murderer?  The fancy diverted
him.  His eyes drew away from the indistinct craft--first to the reefs,
and then to that spot where the colossal needle stretched up under the
water.  It was as Pierre speculated.  Brigond, the French pirate, who had
hidden his gold at such shameless cost, was, after twenty years in the
galleys at Toulon, come back to find his treasure.  He had doubted little
that he would find it.  The lonely spot, the superstition concerning dead
bodies, the supposed doom of Gaspard, all ran in his favour.  His little
craft came on, manned by as vile a mob as ever mutinied or built a
wrecker's fire.

When the ship got within a short distance of the bay, Pierre rose and
called.  Gaspard came to the door.  "There's work to do, pilot," he said.
Gaspard felt the thrill of his voice, and flashed a look out to the gulf.
He raised his hands with a gasp.  "I feel it," he said: "it is the hour
of God!"

He started to the rope ladder of the cliff, then wheeled suddenly and
came back to Pierre.  "You must not come," he said.  "Stay here and
watch; you shall see great things."  His voice had a round, deep tone.
He caught both Pierre's hands in his and added: "It is for my wife and
child; I have no fear.  Adieu, my friend!  When you see the good Pere
Corraine say to him--but no, it is no matter--there is One greater!"

Once again he caught Pierre hard by the shoulder, then ran to the cliff
and swung down the ladder.  All at once there shot through Pierre's body
an impulse, and his eyes lighted with excitement.  He sprang towards the
cliff.  "Gaspard, come back!" he called; then paused, and, with an
enigmatical smile, shrugged his shoulders, drew back, and waited.

The vessel was hove to outside the bay, as if hesitating.  Brigond was
considering whether it were better, with his scant chart, to attempt the
bay, or to take small boats and make for the shore.  He remembered the
reefs, but he did not know of the needle of rock.  Presently he saw
Gaspard's boat coming.  "Someone who knows the bay," he said; "I see a
hut on the cliff."

"Hello, who are you?"  Brigond called down as Gaspard drew alongside.

"A Hudson's Bay Company's man," answered Gaspard.

"How many are there of you?"

"Myself alone."

"Can you pilot us in?"

"I know the way."

"Come up."

Gaspard remembered Brigond, and he veiled his eyes lest the hate he felt
should reveal him.  No one could have recognised him as the young pilot
of twenty years before.  Then his face was cheerful and bright, and in
his eye was the fire of youth.  Now a thick beard and furrowing lines hid
all the look of the past.  His voice, too, was desolate and distant.

Brigond clapped him on the shoulder.  "How long have you lived off
there?" he asked, as he jerked his finger towards the shore.

"A good many years."

"Did anything strange ever happen there?"  Gaspard felt his heart
contract again, as it did when Brigond's hand touched his shoulder.

"Nothing strange is known."

A vicious joy came into Brigond's face.  His fingers opened and shut.
"Safe, by the holy heaven!" he grunted.

"'By the holy heaven!'" repeated Gaspard, under his breath.

They walked forward.  Almost as they did so there came a big puff of wind
across the bay: one of those sudden currents that run in from the ocean
and the gulf stream.  Gaspard saw, and smiled.  In a moment the vessel's
nose was towards the bay, and she sailed in, dipping a shoulder to the
sudden foam.  On she came past reef and bar, a pretty tumbril to the
slaughter.  The spray feathered up to her sails, the sun caught her on
deck and beam; she was running dead for the needle of rock.

Brigond stood at Gaspard's side.  All at once Gaspard made the sacred
gesture and said, in a low tone, as if only to himself: "Pardon, mon
capitaine, mon Jesu!" Then he turned triumphantly, fiercely, upon
Brigond.  The pirate was startled.  "What's the matter?" he said.

Not Gaspard, but the needle rock replied.  There was a sudden shock; the
vessel stood still and shivered; lurched, swung shoulder downwards,
reeled and struggled.  Instantly she began to sink.

"The boats!  lower the boats!" cried Brigond.  "This cursed fool has run
us on a rock!"

The waves, running high, now swept over the deck.  Brigond started aft,
but Gaspard sprang before him.  "Stand back!" he called.  "Where you are
you die!"

Brigond, wild with terror and rage, ran at him.  Gaspard caught him as he
came.  With vast strength he lifted him and dashed him to the deck.  "Die
there, murderer!" he cried.

Brigond crouched upon the deck, looking at him with fearful eyes.  "Who-
are you?" he asked.

"I am Gaspard the pilot.  I have waited for you twenty years.  Up there,
in the snow, my wife and child died.  Here, in this bay, you die."

There was noise and racketing behind them, but they two heard nothing.
The one was alone with his terror, the other with his soul.  Once, twice,
thrice, the vessel heaved, then went suddenly still.

Gaspard understood.  One look at his victim, then he made the sacred
gesture again, and folded his arms.  Pierre, from the height of the
cliff, looking down, saw the vessel dip at the bow, and then the waters
divided and swallowed it up.

"Gaspard should have lived," he said.  "But--who can tell!  Perhaps
Mamette was waiting for him."



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Have you ever felt the hand of your own child in yours
Memory is man's greatest friend and worst enemy
Solitude fixes our hearts immovably on things
When a man laugh in the sun and think nothing of evil





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